Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that thingLiam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him, until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever. With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied, but the violent, mythical Otherworlders who inhabit the island and the sea around it have other plans. They make a wager on their love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial, and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.
Ashes on the Waves is haunting and mysterious gothic novel filled with darkness and dangerous beings, filled with sadness and mournful wailing, filled with dark secrets and a love hopefully unbreakable.
Something unexpected in this book but welcome was Liam's voice. An old-fashioned way of speaking brought on by classic literature, intelligence that belies his age, but also a sadness that cuts deep. He's a melancholic young man hated by most of the villagers, shunned because of his origins, cast aside like a monster. When Anna comes along she doesn't see what they see, but she doesn't know what they know, what Liam himself knows. Anna returning to the island creates hope in Liam, awakening a dream of not being looked at in fear or revulsion.
Being in Liam's head shows readers the dangers of the island but keeps the secrets he also keeps from Anna, and so in that way readers learn as Anna learns. Readers are left in the dark, curious about why he is called a demon by the villagers, until Liam tells Anna what he knows. But even then it's not everything because Liam himself doesn't know the whole truth.
On the island is Celtic and old world mythology come to life. The Otherworlders are creatures of myth and legend, living on land and in the sea. They are very dangerous, and not so mythical, if they're present, if their presence is known. And they have their own agenda, wrapping up Liam and Anna in something sinister.
The author has brought new life to Poe's poem, to the sea and the castle rising over it, to the cliffs and the dark waters holding dangerous secrets, to the overwhelming love the narrator has for a certain girl. But how strong is Liam and Anna's love? Is it truly unbreakable? This is a modern day gothic novel with a compelling love story, it's utterly enthralling and utterly heart-breaking....more
Free from a purely analytical mind, Tanpopo leaves the safety that knowledge provides and explores the realm of the unknown... emotion. Kuro, her deviFree from a purely analytical mind, Tanpopo leaves the safety that knowledge provides and explores the realm of the unknown... emotion. Kuro, her devil in disguise companion, stays true and grants her wish to experience the emotion of the real world, but little does she know he has a surprise in store, a painful lesson in what it means to be human.
Volume 2 marks a return to d'Errico's familiar manga style of art. Every page is so striking, bright colours, yellows and pinks and blues, combined with thin black lines like scratches from a pen. Tanpopo's eyes are so big and clear, and so important. They are how she sees this new world, the one Kuro had pulled her into to teach her about emotion, and here on the beach, to teach her about sadness.
This is Tanpopo's first sight of the outside world, her first moments away from the knowledge machine, away from what is controlled and cold and easy to understand. Bringing her to the sea, having her witness the shooting of the albatross, the encounter with the strangers, it almost seems like too much, like the sadness would bring her to her knees and make her question the world.
Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner plays off of d'Errico's artwork in the same way the artwork plays off of Coleridge. That epic poem has been reimagined, twisted and turned, but is still something beautiful and haunting. The message here is harder to understand, perhaps a mix of Coleridge's fault and my own. It seems to me that the lesson of Kuro's to Tanpopo is that of life and death, that blame comes when it isn't deserved all because of what the situation appears to look like, and that he has the power to take life away as well as give it.
Tanpopo's journey into the world of emotion will not be easy, that much is clear, but if every step of the way is as haunting and lyrical as the last, as visually enchanting, then I will relish the journey, no matter how long it takes....more
Edge and emotion bring to life the story of a mysterious young girl who makes a pact with the devil. Released from the machine that has been her onlyEdge and emotion bring to life the story of a mysterious young girl who makes a pact with the devil. Released from the machine that has been her only existence, she hopes to find happiness...Tanpopo Volume 1 was inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust: A Dramatic Poem. The play's tragic themes are carried throughout this graphic novel by Camilla d'Errico's manga-style artwork.
My second attempt at reviewing a graphic novel (my first was Hope Larson's Mercury). If this goes well, perhaps I'll start reviewing graphic novels on a semi-regular basis. ;)
Artist Camilla d'Errico combines stark images drawn in a manga style with passages from Goethe's Faust to introduce us to Tanpopo, a young girl who only knows what the machine tells her. She knows nothing of emotion, nothing of good or evil, nothing of what it means to be human. She is intelligent but emotionless, caught in the struggle between her mind and her heart. She does not live but survives, the machine's cold intelligence and guidance her only connection to the world.
Taken from Faust is the conflict in Tanpopo's heart, the decision to leave a familiar world for a new and possibly heartbreaking experience. We stay in comfortable situations because we fear the unknown, we don't know what is beyond the boundaries of our existence. Here is Tanpopo and the machine that provides knowledge but gives her nothing of the human experience. And so, like in Faust, in walks the devil to make a deal, in walks the promise of emotional experiences, in walks a hidden objective to own a young girl's soul. he gives her wings to fly away, to experience life as she desires to.
The artwork brings the passages alive, giving them a lonely face, a name, a joyless situation to leave behind. The loneliness in Tanpopo's huge eyes is so clear, the sorrow in her slumped shoulders and dangling hands. The devil Kuro is childish, playful, and cute, but disguises himself as The Poodle, a small, black figure. By doing this, his goal is to get Tanpopo to agree to their deal for her soul, keeping from her his ability to change forms. Including a boy.
d'Errico's drawings are stark, like a black pen was scratched across the page, hints and splashes of colour added later to highlight. Simple, but so much is hidden below the surface, so much to explore and discover.
It's hard to separate the words from the artwork because they are connected, one bringing so much emotion and life to the other. I feel I can only quote the website d'Errico has for Tanpopo (found here): "Tanpopo is not an illustrated poem nor is it a reinterpretation of literature. It is a unique visual and literary experience that combines a rare, open storytelling format with oriental aesthetics and character development, while bringing long lost or little known classic literature to today’s audience – both young and mature."
Tanpopo is more than a graphic novel, more than a unique experience that combines literature and illustrations. It is a story that cuts to the heart of us, a story about what makes us human beings, what we perceive and what defines us....more
Callie and her little brother Tyler lost their parents in the Spore Wars, when everyone between twenty and sixty died. Now they're squatters, withoutCallie and her little brother Tyler lost their parents in the Spore Wars, when everyone between twenty and sixty died. Now they're squatters, without a family, scrounging for food with their friend Michael. As far as Callie sees it, their only hope is Prime Destinations, a place that allows teens to rent their bodies out to Enders, the elderly that want to be young again. Desperate for money for Tyler, Callie agrees, but something goes wrong and she wakes up in the life of her Ender renter. She's introduced to a fairy-tale life, until Callie learns her renter had more in mind than just partying, and that Prime Destinations is more evil than she imagined.
A mix of science fiction, dystopian, and a thriller mystery, Starters is a glimpse into a complicated world. You're either young or you're old, there is no in between, and the two sides can lead very different lives. Callie wants to make everything easier for her brother, to get them out of ruined buildings and back into an actual home, but for orphans/unclaimed minors such as them, it's not that easy.
A very unique premise, I will say that, but there's something that kept me from enjoying more than I did, something elusive. The entire book was Callie and her journey, her discovery, her battle for survival, her realizations that the world was even more dangerous than she thought, but it's possible I'd expected more. Perhaps I wanted more of a mix between her life with Tyler and Michael and her life as a donor. Perhaps I wanted more science fiction, a more distant future, something besides the chip implanted in her brain.
Perhaps it was the moral and ethical questions that arose with the practice of donors and renters. What right do the Enders have to want to be young again? They lived their lives, what about the younger generation? The Enders aren't just borrowing a younger body for a period of time, they're stealing the chance to live from someone else. As a practice, as a last resort for Callie, it left me rather chilled.
Callie was an interesting character, rather willful and smart, but through the book I was torn. Does she go see her brother when she wakes up unexpectedly? Does she help her renter with her plan? Does she wait out the month, staying quiet, and live a normal life with Tyler?
Starters is an interesting story, a journey of discovery, of the lengths that someone will go through to keep their family safe, and what dangerous situations someone might be unknowingly forced into, but it wasn't necessarily my cup of tea. Something I haven't yet put my finger on kept me from enjoying it as much as others....more
The Shima Imperium is on the verge of an environmental collapse: the skies are red with blood, the land is choked with with toxic pollution, and the gThe Shima Imperium is on the verge of an environmental collapse: the skies are red with blood, the land is choked with with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed have departed forever. The hunters of the imperial court have been charged to find a thunder tiger, a half-eagle half-tiger creature. Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessor of a talent that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the hunt, she soon finds herself stranded in Shima's lost wildnerness, with only a furious and crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, she's sure he'd rather see her dead than help him. Working together, though, they could have the power to challenge an empire.
Stormdancer is lush with inspiration from Japan, its culture, language, and mythology, coming together with a strong heroine to become a compelling new fantasy with steampunk and Asian elements. Even with all the Japanese words, customs, and mythology, it still felt like it was taking place in a different country, on a different world.
Now, fantasy novels often have a tendency to be ripe with backstory and information, which is understandable. World-building, especially for epic fantasy, can be extensive. Unfortunately for this book, I did find the beginning rather slow to start. It stemmed from the combination of elaborate description and establishing the setting and its residents, customs, and culture. Once the book got into the main story, the main plot, it moved along at a much faster pace. There are also a fair amount of Japanese terms, and the alternating back and forth between the Japanese and the English, like Kitsune/Fox, can be complicated if you don't know what the term means. In that way, I wish the author had stayed consistent.
Yukiko is very much a tomboy, a rough around the edges kind of girl, a taking care of her father when he's drunk and high on lotus kind of girl. Odds are she will be a fighter, looking at the cover that features a wicked tattoo going down her right arm and that tattooed arm drawing a sword. Of course, it all depends on whether or not she knows how to use it.
The thunder tiger is a very interesting creature pulled from myth and legend and made flesh and blood by the author. There are a fair number of Japanese myths involving animals, dragons and foxes and cats and the like, but this was a first for me, seeing the half-eagle half-tiger (also known as a griffin) as the main mythological creature. It was refreshing to discover that the thunder tiger had his own personality, as linear as it was. The relationship between him and Yukiko was one of the highlights of the book for me.
The world in this book is rather interesting, and one thing constantly bothered me. The lotus. I wanted to know what it was, where it came from, all I got was that it's taken over a lot of the landscape and it's smoked as a drug like opium. It also doesn't sound like a good thing, even though the Lotus Guild is in favour of it blooming.
The book is marketed as a Japanese-style steampunk fantasy, and it might only be my fault as a reader not connecting things at the beginning, but I didn't realize what the steampunk aspect was until close to the end. It wasn't that it was hidden, I just didn't connect the metal suits of the Guildsmen with steampunk. Perhaps it was Yukiko and the thunder tiger that eclipsed the steampunk parts of the book, making it feel more like an epic fantasy with some random mechanical flair.
Even though the book was slow to start and rather heavy with world-building backstory, I believe that fans of epic fantasy will enjoy it, especially those looking for an Asian twist on the standard epic fantasy that often has British roots. Also, those who enjoy books about teenage heroines who fight with a sword and have a large magical animal companion might want to give it a read....more
Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see. Now Danny is left aDanny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see. Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore. When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
When You Were Here is an emotional and moving tale of a young man's search into his mother's life. There is grief and loss and family, but also death and love, and how utterly confusing the two are.
Danny is a mix of messed up emotions. He's broken, depressed, listless, and with no sense of direction, no idea of what to do next. There is no emotion in him, apart from anger at the world, affection towards his dog, and confusion towards his sort of ex-girlfriend. It's like his mother was an anchor in his life, and his memories of her aren't enough to hold him down to continue on with his life.
Love and death have a way of going hand in hand in life. They are both completely confusing, hard to understand, and unmistakably irresistible. We can't escape either of them. We love, we die, the ones we love die, our love for others die. But why are love and death so important to the human condition? Why do we base our lives on them, why do we both run from them and run towards them? Is the challenge of trying to understand them that pulls us in? Or is it that, without them, life would be meaningless?
After his mother's death, Danny's at a loss and is unsure of where to go next. Losing someone takes a lot out of you, it leaves the world feeling incomplete, like you're not sure how to navigate the place you've always lived in, a place you know like the back of your hand.
Danny is searching for reasons why his mother died, but he never expects to learn lessons in love, life, and letting go. The world is far from perfect, there will be pain and loss, but you have to think of the good times, you have to do what makes you happy. You have to love life and love those in your life like nothing else matters....more
Fed up with her wild behaviour, Lex's parents send her off to upstate New York to spend the summer with her uncle, hoping a few months of hard farm woFed up with her wild behaviour, Lex's parents send her off to upstate New York to spend the summer with her uncle, hoping a few months of hard farm work will straighten her out. But then Lex learns that Uncle Mort is a Grim Reaper and that he's going to teach her the family business. It doesn't take long for Lex to fit in with the other young Reapers in town, but whenever she comes across someone who's been murdered, she wants to go after the person who did it. Plus, someone's been killing people who aren't supposed to die. If she finds out who's going the killing, will it stop, or will she join in?
Croak is creepy and dark with loads of snark and humour mixed in. The world Lex is introduced to is so complicated, but then death is rather complicated. The book starts off slowly, introducing the outrageously complex and rough character that Lex is, then you start working your way into the story, into the strange town that is Croak, and then it's like a rush straight towards the end.
Lex is something of a badass. She's rough, she's belligerent, she swears like a trucker, but there's a massive load of snark and sass hidden underneath the hoodie. She definitely has some baggage, has her own opinions about the world, her own sense of right and wrong, and being in Croak will be the biggest lesson she could learn over a summer.
What interested me the most in this book is the twist on grim reapers. Using grim reapers as characters in popular literature and culture is intriguing in that it gives death a face, gives us something tangible to focus on when faced with death. The idea that there is a group, hidden from society, going around taking our souls before we die, sounds impossible, but there's so much we don't know about death, about what happens after death. Saying people are involved, saying there are grim reapers, normal people who travel around and see our last moments, is both whimsical and lightly macabre.
There's also a fair amount of teenagers dealing with violence and death in this book. Sometimes, life isn't perfect, some teens don't have happy families with parents and siblings and white picket fences. But there's still the chance for them to live their own lives, to come together with teens from other situations because they have certain skills. The group of friends that Lex makes in this book is like a family of sorts. Sure, they're all reapers and deal with death on a daily basis, but family is family.
A wry look at death while still fighting to stay alive. Well, if you can't mix humour and death and end up with a great story, what's the point? ...more